I have in my possession a postcard reply
to a letter I wrote to Seamus Heaney,
a picture card called "Turfstacks on the Bog", an oil
on canvas reprint, sparse in colour, full of mood.
On the back, written in his own creative hand
are warm words: "Good to hear from you." Wonder poet,
icon of world literature, pleased to hear from me,
I mean, pleased to hear from me.
It's a fan thing, if poetry can handle that,
one small step from poet posters hung on a wall,
tee-shirts displaying stanza-bites, cartoon badges,
the urge to change my name by deed poll from Joe to Seamus.
I compare his words to my words, his career apex
to my learning curve, his control to my mistakes,
his quality to my quantity, his stature and humanity
in the often stuffy, snobbish quagmire of poets and poetry.
But with all the comparisons there are sparks
of hope and initiative for me to give him a run
for his well-earned money. His is the job I want,
feet on the ground, head in thought, well-respected man.
It may be an Irish thing, some ingredient
in the blood-mix pumping the brain with artistic notions,
urging the crafting of words to express
delight and despair, malevolence and marvels.
I am looking for my own turfstacks on the bog scene,
some encapsulation of the roots of my work.
I can see an overloaded folder of words, none brilliant,
some good, some bad - but at least I'm in there writing.